Second Thought for the Day – 19 March – St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
One of the long-standing Follower/Benefactor on Breathing Catholic, who lives in Canada, shared the following with me on St Joseph’s day last year – many of you will remember that, at that time, I had recently moved from the area in the story to where I live now – AND had never heard about Fr O’Hare there:
Do Not Forget St Joseph!
Father O’Hare, a Missionary in South Africa, relates the following story:
“During my residence of twelve years in Africa, I had charge of a territory as large as all England. From time to time I visited my scattered flock. On one of these tours I lost my way and wandered about, without having any idea whence I came or whither I was going.
No trace of a human being could be seen. It was in the dry season and my thirsty ponies could hardly draw my cart. Eventually I arrived in an unknown valley wherein was located the farm of a Boer Afrikaner. The land was scorched by the heat of the sun but I saw a pond near the house. I presented myself to the farmer, told him my story and requested permission to water my horses. This he permitted.
Then I told him that I was a Catholic Priest. I noticed that he was a Calvinist. ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘that is fortunate – for, in the rear of the house there lies a workman; he is a Catholic. Perhaps you can go to see him.’
I hurried there and found a poor boy with death written on his forehead. When I told him that I was the Catholic Priest from the District of Oudtshoorn, 150 miles away, the sunken and pale man raised himself in his bed and cried out with emotion in a tone of genuine thanks: ‘Oh, St Joseph! I knew you would send me a Priest before my death, who would assist me in my last hour’.
What is that about St. Joseph? I asked inquisitively.
Then the dying man told me the following story: “When I was yet a boy at home, my good and pious mother taught me to say every day, ‘Oh, St. Joseph obtain for me the grace of a happy death.‘ From that day on, I never omitted that prayer a single day. I made my first Holy Communion when ten years old, served Holy Mass until my fifteenth birthday and entered the army when I was twenty-one. The Zulu war brought me to Africa. Before leaving Ireland I went to take leave of my poor old mother in my uniform. When we parted she added: ‘Do not forget the little prayer to St Joseph.’
“The Zulu war ended and my service expired; I received my honourable discharge and stayed in the Colony. The nearest Priest to me lived in Capetown, 500 miles distant. After a time I came to this Dutch farmer and have been here for years . Not long ago, I heard that a Priest was at Oudtshoorn, 150 miles away and although sickly, I went there that I might again approach the Sacraments, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion.” When I arrived at the presbytery, I was told that you had already left on your tour. ‘Yesterday I arrived back here, sick unto death and now you see, today St Joseph sends me a priest!’
I remained overnight with him, prepared him, heard his Confession and the next morning gave him the Holy Viaticum and shortly afterwards anointed him and gave him the last blessing.
A little while later he died and the last prayer that fell from his lips was: ‘St Joseph, obtain for me the grace of a happy death! ”